Author:Cunnane, F. Patrick
Position:ECONOMICS - Socialism

"... Socialism should be explained with a best scientific effort and analyzed with methods of logic--not preached about in nonquantifiable, emotional right- or left-leaning dogma."

IS SOCIALISM affordable? The answer is conditional. Anything can be forced into affordability, but at what cost? While systems "A" and "B" both can be affordable, the quality of life under each can be very different, which raises additional questions about what it takes for an economic system to further the long-term interests of humanity.

The Wall Street Journal recently published a series of editorials attempting either to answer or persuade readers about the relative feasibility of socialism--ultimately accomplishing neither. The authors provided little data, instead relying on emotionally charged terms, such as exorbitant, anthropomorphize, immiseration, disarray, free college/medical care.

Let us start with who is asking the question and why--certainly not anyone who spent time crawling under their desks during nuclear attack drills when the threat of the Soviet Union blowing up the U.S. was very real. Older Americans clearly remember a Russian socialist philosophy where the average lifespan was age 50 and people had no voice, soap, toothpaste, savings, bank account, cars, courts ... and no way to escape. It was an abusive society that people eventually rebelled against. Largely, it is the 40-year-old and younger demographic (who have a different economic experience) who are asking the question with a genuine desire to understand. It is a fair question that should not be blown off or insulted with emotional elder superiority and factless or oversimplified scripts labeling socialism anywhere from "really, really bad" to "everything is free."

Affordable socialism should be explained with a best scientific effort and analyzed with methods of logic--not preached about in non-quantifiable, emotional right- or left-leaning dogma. Instead, natural science's well-established first principles expressed in tested logic can answer a tough question like this.

Physics is a field of natural science with laws that are precise and can be applied using a step-by-step process that explains cause (the why) and effect (the result). Physics constrains false ideas with the conformity to laws which cannot be violated, regardless of a desire to believe otherwise. Natural science seeks to explain the questions of the universe, and humanity is a small subset of that universe. Additionally, mechanical physics will demand relating questions, which is part of the scientific process.

Physics and proportions can be linear or curved, enabling complex problems to be solved with a series of simple straight lines or curves. So, bringing natural science to an economics question versus emotional manipulation offers a greater opportunity for common agreement and helps answer this question.

As a science, physics does not convince anyone of anything; it merely is a tool for explaining data. The data convinces. For example, humans can fly because we saw a bird fly (data). Physics (the tool) explains that pressure goes down as molecules speed up (wing design). The data plus physics enabled the airplane. Natural science demands that political agendas, self-interest, and lack of understanding be put aside when defining a complex problem--and the better the variables are defined, the easier it is to grasp.

A natural science approach requires us first to define, then scientifically explain, how socialism and its counterpart, capitalism, operate. It also requires us to define economics, since socialism and capitalism attempt to manage the economic process. As the operations of both systems become clear, the efficiencies and desirability of "A" vs. "B" become more obvious.

However, defining economics long has been a problem. The current definition is politically tainted by a purposeful effort to mis-define economics to serve philosophical objectives versus a serious effort to succeed at finding correct answers.

In the 1930s, British economist Lionel Robbins believed economics was a social science studying human behavior as a relationship between given ends (I want stuff) and scarce means (only so much stuff exists). This is...

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